John Moores 'failed to act on' anti-Semitic vendetta

August 3, 2001

An anti-Semitic campaign against a prominent scholar at Liverpool John Moores University led to a bomb scare and an investigation by Special Branch, an employment tribunal heard this week.

Oliver Leaman, former professor of philosophy at LJMU, told the Liverpool tribunal that he was subjected to a sustained and aggressive hate campaign for years. He said his mail was interfered with and stolen, and he had received anti-Semitic notes, often on departmental notepaper, culminating in the receipt of a suspect package, which had to be destroyed by the army.

The university said that after the bomb scare it set up a number of special security measures at the Henry Cotton campus.

Professor Leaman is claiming racial discrimination and constructive dismissal. He alleges the university failed to respond properly to his concerns. In a statement to the tribunal he said: "I have never received any expression of concern by senior academic management at this train of events."

The university, which is contesting all the allegations, did not deny that there may have been a campaign against the professor, although it failed to identify a perpetrator. It said this week that his concerns "were treated with the utmost seriousness", and added: "Professor Leaman was provided with the university's full protection and support. The university therefore believes that claims of racial discrimination are ill-informed and unfounded."

Professor Leaman, who had been employed at what is now LJMU since 1980, complained that his relationship with the university deteriorated when a new director of the school of social sciences, Vince Gardiner, was appointed in 1998. He claims Professor Gardiner closed the philosophy programme where he was course leader, failed to find him alternative employment and repeatedly denied him access to research money and basic expenses.

The university said the course was closed after student numbers fell, making it unviable. "Professor Leaman took an unofficial leave of absence in summer 2000 and secured alternative employment at the University of Kentucky without informing LJMU," it said.

A judgment is expected in October.

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